Remembrance Day 2015
It was a lovely warm and sunny day in between two storms. Consequently, there was a huge turnout at the cenotaph. Perhaps 400 people came out to take part in the Remembrance Day ceremony and the reception at the Stanley Park pavilion. The crowd was mostly Nikkei, and it was heartwarming to see children and families, all ages. The Globe & Mail and the Vancouver Shimpo were present for Media coverage and interviewed Karl Konishi, a Korean War Veteran. Gordon Kadota, our experienced moderator, coordinated a lovely ceremony, and this year there were 15 wreaths presented to the cenotaph.
The Wreath layers were: Legion #9 – Dave Mitsui, S-20 & Nisei Vets – Kazuko & Susan Yatabe, NAJC – Tosh Kitagawa, GVJCCA – Lorene Oikawa, Consul General Seiji Okada, NNMCC – Roger Lemire, RCMP – Corporal Peter Somerville, City of Vancouver – Councilor Geoff Meggs, Parks Board Commissioners – Stuart Mackinnon & Catherine Evans, VCP – Supt Mike Porteous, BC Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples Federation – Vice President Larry Ryan, JC Christian Churches – Rev. Yutaka Zama, Konko Church – Mrs. Jane Hashimoto, Seicho no Ie Church, UBC Intercultural Studies – Alden Habacon.
Keiko Norisue led us in the singing of O Canada, and God Save the Queen. Piper Alex Galloway piped RCMP Corporal Peter Somerville into the plaza and piped the Lament. Bugler Bombardier Ross Bligh played the Last Post and Reveille. Eileen Kitamura recited In Flanders Fields, and David Mitsui recited the Act of Remembrance. Reverend Roderick Hashimoto of the Konko Church did a purification ceremony and reflected on the soldiers, the importance of the cenotaph, and the people attending the ceremony.
After the beautiful ceremony, we enjoyed the newly renovated Pavilion and a lovely gourmet sandwich spread with sushi, and manju. The Photo display of Nikkei in all the wars and three uniforms (Tony Kato, Zennosuke Inouye, and Tom Shoyama’s) were displayed in the back of the room. David Mitsui displayed his grandfather Sgt Masumi Mitsui’s medals.
This year we acknowledged the completion of phase two of the restoration project with special thanks to Heritage BC who were major funders of the repair of the lantern, terracotta roof and adjusting the lighting in the lantern. We also took the opportunity to thank all the contributors to the phased project which are Veterans Affairs Canada, Heritage BC-Heritage Legacy fund, Vancouver Heritage Foundation, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Poppy Fund, Cedar Springs Foundation, Howard C. Green Memorial fund, Ethel Isomura, Nikkei Place Foundation, the National Association of Japanese Canadians and many private donors.
We also acknowledged that 70 years ago, the Nisei Veterans enlisted into the Canadian Army even though they were interned and declared Enemy Aliens in the Second World War. Many of those men who enlisted were community leaders, such as Tom Shoyama, George Tanaka, Roger Obata, Buck Suzuki, and others who went on to fight for the franchise after their tour and/or organize the NAJC and provincial JCCA’s.
Our guest speaker was Susan Yatabe, daughter of Eiji Yatabe. Susan spoke very eloquently with a Power Point presentation about her grandfather Saburo Shinobu who went with Sgt Mitsui and Kubota to the Provincial Legislature to lobby for and achieve the vote for Veterans in 1931. Saburo Shinobu attended the Vimy Ridge dedication in 1936 with Mr. & Mrs. Eikichi Kagetsu and wrote a diary of that memorable trip. Susan quoted some excerpts from the diary. Then she went on to talk about her uncle Min Yatabe and father Eiji Yatabe’s accounts of their duties in the Second World War. We were quite impressed with such an esteemed family and what a contribution they have left to the greater JC community!
Veterans present at our day were: Karl Konishi, Korean War; Don Yamane, Korean War; Ray Nakamoto, Korean War; Michiko Carignan, RCAF in peacetime; Darren Kinoshita, Afghanistan War. We were very honoured to have them with us and hear their stories.
Kathryn Molloy, Executive Director of Heritage BC, was kind enough to say a few words about the fund and her organization, and told us about the plans to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by developing a heritage marker map. They intend to include the cenotaph on the map which was pleasing to hear.
Special thanks to our volunteers:
Ceremony: Ray Ota, Harry Otsuki, Cameron Reid, Christopher Yamauchi, Michael Yamauchi, David Mitsui, generator from John Kamitakahara, and assistance from Baxter Kobe Florists.
Reception: Chic Tanaka, Shag & Keiko Ando, Sanaye Ikari, May Sato, Naomi Chiu & Katie, April Shimizu, Barbara McRae, Hiroko Stuart, Kelly Stuart, Naomi & Frank Kamiya, Lillian Morishita, Alice Takagi, Kaz Takahashi, Yasuko Proskow, stage from Tonari Gumi, screen from NNMCC, and Sherri Kajiwara & Carolyn Nakagawa for photo display. Thanks to the Inouye and Kato familes for bringing the precious uniforms, and to David Mitsui for displaying his grandfather’s medals.
Next year, we are celebrating a centennial anniversary sponsored in large part by Canadian Heritage. Look forward to events that will span the entire year, culminating in an exhibit at the Nikkei National Museum. We are in the planning stages of acknowledging that 100 years ago in 2016, the First World War Veterans enlisted into the Canadian Expeditionary Force mostly in Alberta and other provinces, after being trained as a battalion in BC and refused by the Federal government. In collaboration with the Cherry Blossom Festival, our first event will take place on Vimy Ridge Day April 9, 2016, at the Cenotaph. We are looking forward to a walking tour of the Sakura which were planted around Stanley Park in memory of the First World War Veterans. It will also be the 80th anniversary of the dedication of the Vimy Ridge Memorial in 1936, which honours the Canadians who won the battle there and liberated France when the British and French forces could not. Winning the battle there was an iconic turning point in Canadian History, and our Japanese Canadian Veterans had a special part of that win.
We hope the community continues to enjoy these years of special commemorations, and we look forward to hearing stories from you. If you have any relatives who have taken part in any of the wars, we want to hear your stories, see the pictures, educate the public, and preserve their memory.
Contact Linda Kawamoto Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604 777-7000 X 111.
Photos by John Endo Greenaway